White House hopefuls are unloading on Mike Bloomberg in an effort to draw him into the fray amid uncertainty over whether the former New York City mayor will be on the Democratic debate stage next week in Nevada.
At town hall events, on social media and at meetings with donors, Bloombergs 2020 rivals are sharpening their attacks against him, underscoring his growing strength in the fluid primary race.
Bloomberg has assembled a fearsome campaign apparatus that includes hundreds of the Democratic Partys top operatives and strategists. Hes plowed more than $350 million into a months-long national advertising campaign that has lifted him in the polls.
He has also been on an apology tour to address several racially charged controversies from his time as mayor of New York City. But hes received cover from black leaders on Capitol Hill and new polls show him cutting into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenProgressive journalist: Unions don’t want to ‘ruffle any feathers’ by endorsing in primaryBehar, McCain get into fiery exchange over 2016 election in debate about BloombergSanders leads Biden in latest Nevada pollMOREs support among black voters. 
Bloombergs rivals are eager to get their first crack at him the national stage on Wednesday in Nevada one of the final four debates of the primary season. 
But theres no guarantee that Bloomberg will qualify and there are growing fears among his rivals that hell continue running a parallel general election campaign, gliding above it all, while the rest of the Democratic hopefuls fight among themselves.
They have to now start to actually get on the debate stage and start to defend their records, Biden said of Bloomberg at a Thursday night at a fundraiser in New York City.
So far five candidates have made the debate in Las Vegas on Feb. 19: Biden, Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersProgressive journalist: Unions don’t want to ‘ruffle any feathers’ by endorsing in primaryBehar, McCain get into fiery exchange over 2016 election in debate about BloombergSanders leads Biden in latest Nevada pollMORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBehar, McCain get into fiery exchange over 2016 election in debate about BloombergSanders leads Biden in latest Nevada pollSenate Dems blast Barr for ‘clear violation’ of duty in Stone case, urge him to resignMORE (D-Mass.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSanders leads Biden in latest Nevada pollThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump insists he can tweet about cases in rare break with BarrPoll: Bloomberg overtakes Biden in FloridaMORE (D-Minn.) and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegBehar, McCain get into fiery exchange over 2016 election in debate about BloombergSanders leads Biden in latest Nevada pollThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump insists he can tweet about cases in rare break with BarrMORE.  
If Bloomberg hits 10 percent support in one more sanctioned national poll released by Feb. 18, hell qualify for Wednesdays debate.
Bloomberg has said he wants to debate but the campaign did not respond to a question about whether hed accept an invitation to the Las Vegas forum if he qualifies.
There is some frustration on the left that the Democratic National Committee dropped the fundraising criteria for the debates, paving the way for Bloomberg, a self-funder, to qualify.
Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker, Cornyn introduce bill to fund school nutrition programsHillicon Valley: Facebook suspends misinformation networks targeting US | Lawmakers grill census officials on cybersecurity | Trump signs order to protect GPS | Dem senators propose federal facial recognition moratoriumBooker, Merkley propose federal facial recognition moratoriumMORE (D-N.J.) and former San Antonio, Texas, Mayor Julián Castro were casualties of the stringent early debate requirements before ending their presidential campaigns.
Sanders on Friday said it was unacceptable that a billionaire should be able to buy his way on stage when the candidates of color were excluded. 
That is what being a multi-billionaire is about, Sanders said on CBS This Morning. Some very good friends of mine who are competing in the Democratic nomination, people like Cory Booker of New Jersey … Julián Castro, work really, really hard. Nobody changed the rules to get them into the debate. But I guess if you’re worth $60 billion, you can change the rules. I think that is very, very unfortunate.”
But for the most part, the Democratic field is champing at the bit to get a shot at Bloomberg.
Sanderss campaign has led the way in demanding that Bloomberg be held to account for how his stop-and-frisk policy resulted in the harassment and detainment of large numbers of racial minorities in New York City when he was mayor.
That policy received new scrutiny this week after audio resurfaced of Bloomberg advocating for racial profiling in 2016, saying that violent criminals were usually made up of male, minorities, 16 to 25.
He should not be running now that that has come up, said Nina Turner, national co-chairwoman for the Sanders campaign. “I think he should drop out of the race.
Bloomberg apologized for the policy in front of a predominantly black audience in Houston on Thursday night, saying the policy stemmed from a desire to curb violent crime and that he didnt understand at the time the unintended pain it was causing to young black and brown families and their kids.
Ive spent a lot of time speaking with black leaders and community members and listening to their stories, Bloomberg said. I heard their pain, their confusion, and their anger, and Ive learned from them, and Ive grown from them.
There is no evidence that the racial controversies have damaged Bloomberg.
New polls show Bloombergs national rise has been in part due to support from black voters, who are giving him a look in the aftermath of Bidens distant showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.
The Bloomberg campaign this week rolled out new endorsements from a trio of Congressional Black Caucus members Reps. Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Rising Klobuchar, Buttigieg face test in diverse statesBloomberg builds momentum on Capitol Hill with new endorsementsSenior black Democrats urge party chairman to take responsibility for IowaMORE (D-N.Y.), Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Rising Klobuchar, Buttigieg face test in diverse statesConservative women’s group rolls out new GOP endorsements for 2020Bloomberg builds momentum on Capitol Hill with new endorsementsMORE (D-Ga.), and Del. Stacey PlaskettStacey PlaskettThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Rising Klobuchar, Buttigieg face test in diverse statesBloomberg builds momentum on Capitol Hill with new endorsementsThe Hill’s Morning Report – Sanders surge triggers Dem angstMORE of the Virgin Islands.
House Majority Whip Rep. Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnRep. Cunningham blasts Sanders: ‘South Carolinians don’t want socialism’House Majority Whip: DNC shouldn’t change rules for BloombergTop Democrat: ‘Obstruction of justice’ is ‘too clear not to include’ in impeachment probeMORE (D-S.C.), who has not endorsed yet, said he thinks Bloomberg will have one heck of a challenge trying to overcome stop and frisk.
But he said that former Columbia, S.C., Mayor Steve Benjamin, a prominent African American national co-chairman of Bloombergs campaign, has set him at ease about Bloombergs intentions and how hed govern going forward.
I know, love and respect Steve Benjamin, and hes told me that hes had conversations with Bloomberg that satisfies him. That hes regretful of the policy. That he was a bit flippant in describing it at times and hes apologized for it, Clyburn said Friday on MSNBC. And Steve Benjamin says hes comfortable with that apology and Ive always been very comfortable with Steve Benjamin.
But Bloomberg is facing a second racial controversy over his past remarks that the 2008 financial crisis was due in part to banks loosening their credit standards because they were under pressure from Congress to give loans to poor people.
He also implied that red lining, a banned practice wherein banks would refuse to lend to neighborhoods with high numbers of racial minorities, was effective in ensuring banks did not take on bad loans.
Warren, who rose to power as a fierce consumer financial advocate, hammered Bloomberg at a campaign event in Virginia on Thursday night, saying those remarks should be disqualifying.
Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergBehar, McCain get into fiery exchange over 2016 election in debate about BloombergSanders leads Biden in latest Nevada pollFacebook to allow influencers to produce sponsored content for political campaignsMORE is saying in effect that the 2008 financial crash was caused because the banks werent permitted to discriminate against black and brown people, Warren said. I want to be clear about this that crisis would not have been averted if the banks had been able to be bigger racists and anyone who thinks that should not be the leader of our party.
But no one has been able to confront Bloomberg on the debate stage yet.
Instead, Bloomberg has been content to go one on one with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump declares war on hardworking Americans with new budget requestAvenatti found guilty in Nike extortion trialFirst, we’ll neuter all the judgesMORE, who has attacked the former New York City mayors height and said hell need to stand on a box if he gets on the debate stage.
Im not afraid of Donald Trump and thats why he keeps tweeting about me, Bloomberg said over Twitter. The ways you can tell hes worried is if he mentions you. Hes a narcissist and he understands name is everything and if you really want to annoy him say that person, dont say Donald Trump.